You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2009.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that no one would accuse me of being a fan of Saddam Hussein.  Any leader who harms his own people and punishes erring ones by allowing sewage in their water lines is rather despicable in my book.  And don’t get me started on his playboy sons and their treatment of women.  In the beginning I was for the war in Iraq.  Perhaps I was living in my imaginary world where USA represents all that’s right in the world and we had to fight off those evil dictators and rescue the poor Iraqis.  Sure, it’ll be great to liberate Iraq.  Then those people will be free like us!  Whoo hoo….get ’em, boys!

For one thing I thought this was going to be a remove-Saddam-and-get-out deal.  NEVER did I think we’d still be there to this day.  I have been tired of the war for, oh, years now.  We quickly got to Baghdad, even found Saddam, but why are we still there?

Reading things outside of the American media has opened my eyes to some of the realities.  The imaginary world has been shattered and I’m left facing the ugly reality.  Perhaps my more enlightened Americans will berate me for this and show me where I’m wrong, and that’s all well and good. But I’m just telling it how I see it after listening to people outside my normal circle. Maybe they are feeding me a lie and I’m falling for it.  Who knows? But somehow I don’t think so.

For starters America is not making fewer terrorists by it’s preemptive wars.  No matter how we justify it, we don’t win friends by tearing up a sovereign nation.  And staying there.  For years.  If we were so wanting to truly help the Iraqis, why did we use weapons that have created so much lasting damage? Not just to buildings, but to people … I’m talking about weapons containing depleted uranium (DU) which, by the way, has not only caused a rise in birth defects and rates of cancer in Iraq, but also among our own soldiers!  So why all that just to remove Saddam from power? Did we have to leave this nasty gift for the Iraqis to deal with?  Some reports say DU can affect generations of people giving Iraqis a great reminder of what evil American WMDs can do.  We didn’t find WMDs in Iraq. They may have been there and moved elsewhere, but that’s beside the point now.  Sadly, America brought her own.

And in so doing we have given evidence of our own brand of terrorism … something that Iraq won’t soon forget. As their children are born with defects and suffer higher rates of cancer, don’t think for a minute they will be blessing the liberators from the West.  I see them instead simmering in their hatred and desiring justice.  Who will avenge them of their losses? Their shame?  And we wonder why the ranks of the terrorists grow.

Sadly, we are our own worst enemy in this (recently renamed) “war on terror.”

For more information see


The Depleted Uranium Cover-up

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offense

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Israeli-Army-T-Shirts-Mock-Killing-Palestinian-Women-And-Children-During-Gaza-Offensive/Article/200903315245946?f=rss

The Israeli army is at the centre of a second controversy over the moral conduct of its soldiers in as many days.

The t-shirts were printed for Israeli soldiers at the end of periods of deployment or training courses and were discovered by Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

One, printed for a platoon of Israeli snipers depicts an armed Palestinian pregnant women caught in the crosshairs of a rifle, with the disturbing caption in English: “1 shot 2 kills”.

Another depicts a child carrying a gun also in the centre of a target.

“The smaller, the harder,” read the words on the t-shirt.

According to a soldier interviewed by the newspaper, the message has a double meaning: “It’s a kid, so you’ve got a little more of a problem, morally and also the target is smaller.”

Another shows an Israeli soldier blowing up a mosque and reads “Only God forgives”.

Above a ninja figure, yet another shirt bears the slogan “Won’t chill until I confirm a kill”.

The revelations, coming so soon after Israel’s offensive in Gaza in which hundreds of civilians were killed – many of them women and children – are causing outrage.

Perhaps the most shocking design shows a Palestinian mother weeping next to her dead baby’s grave, also in the crosshairs of a rifle.

It suggests it would have been better if the child had never been born, with the slogan “Better use Durex”.

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I just want to quote the following lines from this article and this one with no comments; these testimonies are not an Arab propaganda but revelations from Israeli soldiers themselves who participated in the war in Gaza:

Israel’s military was rocked on Thursday by Gaza war veterans’ accounts of soldiers’ killings of civilians and allegations that deep contempt for Palestinians pervaded its ranks.

The revelations, compiled by the head of an Israel military academy who declared that he was “shocked” at the findings, come as international rights groups are calling for independent inquiries into the conduct of both sides in the three-week Israeli offensive against Palestinian Islamists.

That’s the beauty of Gaza. You see a man walking, he doesn’t have to have a weapon, and you can shoot him,” one soldier told Danny Zamir, the head of the Rabin pre-military academy, who asked him why a company commander ordered an elderly woman to be shot.

One of the soldiers, an infantry squad leader, recalled an incident in which he said an army sharpshooter killed a Palestinian mother and her two children who turned the wrong way after troops ordered them out of their house.

“The platoon commander let the family go and told them to go to their right. One mother and her two children didn’t understand and went to the left … The sharpshooter saw (them) approaching him, closer than the lines he was told no one should pass. He shot them.”

“I don’t know whether he first shot at their feet or not, but he killed them,” the soldier said.

The squad leader said most of the men under his command felt “the lives of Palestinians … is something very, very less important than the lives of our soldiers, so as far as they are concerned, they can justify it that way”.

The same unnamed NCO said that his commanding officer ordered soldiers on to a rooftop to shoot an old woman crossing a main street during the fighting, which a Palestinian rights groups said left 1,434 people dead, 960 of them civilians.

I don’t know whether she was suspicious, not suspicious, I don’t know her story,” the NCO said. “I do know that my officer sent people to the roof in order to take her out… It was cold-blooded murder.”

Describing vandalism carried out by soldiers, the squad leader said: “To write ‘death to the Arabs’ on the walls, to take family pictures and spit on them, just because you can — I think this is the main thing, to understand how much the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) has fallen in the realm of ethics.”

Another disturbing element reported by the soldiers was the role of military rabbis in distributing booklets that framed the fighting as a religious war. “All these articles had a clear message: we are the Jewish people, we have come to the land by miraculous means, and now we have to fight to remove the Gentiles who are getting in our way and preventing us from occupying the Holy Land… a great many soldiers had a feeling throughout this operation of a religious war,” said one soldier.



Today I will tell you how we got to our hostel in Old Damascus. First of all, here is a view from the street which runs in front of the hostel. Yes, that’s a horse-drawn cart among the crowd of taxis and mini-buses and other vehicles. I would enjoy peering out of the window just to see who was happening by at any given moment.


This is the long way to our hostel. It’s about ten minutes from the busy road you just saw. Typically taxis would drop us off at Bab Sharqi (the tall white thing in the center of first picture),

and we’d walk down these narrow streets in the Bab Touma neighborhood

which cars and buses would brave at times.

Welcome to The Damascus Hostel! This is probably the most interesting place I’ve ever stayed in. We met people from Australia, Turkey, the United States, British Columbia, Lattakia, London, Scotland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, France and Amsterdam.

The other way to our hostel was a bit more exciting. Here Andrew will demonstrate. Starting at the busy road (pic 1),

climb over the fence

ring for the ladder if it’s not already down & then climb up here.


Our room was in the tower. That is the window I’d look out of to see the sights on the busy street below. One of my favorite memories was seeing cleaners washing the street with a big water truck around 12:30 or 1 AM. I wish I’d been able to photograph that, but I figured I’d only get a glare from the window.

Later I’ll share pictures from within these hostel walls, but now you know how to get into the place.

Pictures from Damascus, Syria
January/February 2009

An American friend recently told me about the Boston Tea Party, an act admired by many even now for its show of defiance against foreigners imposing their will on the American people. I considered this new knowledge of American history while noticing how many of my American friends strongly oppose their government taking more control of matters in their daily lives like revamping the health care system and bailing out banks and big businesses. They claim things will get worse once inefficient, big government gets involved. Case in point, the failing Social Security system, right? These Americans really want less government intrusion in their families and in their personal decisions.

If you oppose YOUR government – elected by you – being so involved in your daily lives, why do you expect others to accept its involvement in their lives although they did not elect it? Why should the Iraqis accept the government the US thinks is best for that country? Do you self-described conservative and libertarian types not oppose YOUR own politicians meddling in your healthcare system and definitions of marriage? Why then do you think it’s fine for these same politicians- who were NOT elected here – to meddle and destroy and tell us what to do? Why the double standards? You want liberty and justice for all, but “all” means only Americans, right? Why do the Americans have the right to arrest more than 19,000 Iraqis without trials? Why do they have the right to kill and wound hundreds of thousands in Iraq and elsewhere without anyone holding them accountable? Would the Americans accept their own government doing these kind of things to them?

Why expect others to accept what you do not wish to accept yourself? We did not elect your politicians.